The Influence Of Human Nature: The Stanford Prison Experiment

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To what extent is human nature malleable? Does evil triumph over humanity or does humanity win over evil? The Stanford Prison Experiment, known as one of the most notorious experiments in the study of human psychology, was conducted at Stanford University in 197l. Philip Zimbardo, a psychology professor, and a team of researchers wanted to study the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. Twenty-four undergraduate male students out of over 75 were selected to play randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison located in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. This six day experiment not only portrays a profound insight into immorality and darkness that inhabits the human psyche, but very well illustrates the fragility of human nature. It shows the influence of power and authority, how…show more content…
However, the situation and the circumstances in the environment were so powerful that it slowly distorted their personalities. After a few days of the experiment, the guards were too caught up in the events that were taking place and transformed from ordinary, normal young men into sadistic guards. They were incapable to make judgments based on their moral and intellectual knowledge. Same with the prisoners, the overwhelmingly powerful situation they were placed in caused the prisoners to behave sadistically and depressing which later caused signs of extreme stress and emotional breakdowns. All in all, the Stanford Prison Experiment illustrates how authority, unequal balance of power, and the situation that one is placed can all lead to converting ordinary people into committing unconventional acts. Although the experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days, it very well demonstrates how everyone has potential to descend from order to chaos and good to evil and that human nature can transform in a very rapid way because of its

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